Matti Taneli Vanhanen (born November 4, 1955, in Jyväskylä) is the current Finnish Prime Minister from the Center Party. Vanhanen has a university education in Political science, has worked as a journalist, and is regarded as an expert on EU matters.
In 1991 he was chairman of the youth organisation of the Centre Party and elected to the national Finnish parliament for the first time. His topic were primarly ecological issues, e.g. he spoke against building a fifth nuclear power plant in Finland, at the same time being member of the board of Finish electrity corporation Fortum.
Another important topic for Vanhanen was Finland's foreign and security policy. As specialist for the European Union he was a member of the European Union Constitutional Convent. There he critized the convent president Giscard d'Estaing as authoritarian. Vanhanen is said to be a EU sceptic. In 2003 he became Minister of Defense in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Anneli Jäätteenmäki, and quitted from the Convent. After Jäätteenmäki's resignation, Vanhanen succeeded as Prime Minister.
Vanhanen has been characterised as uncharismatic and even boring, which has turned to his advantage in the tense political situation. The veteran political hack Seppo Kääriäinen quipped that he is the most honest man in the party; and that if he was not good enough, he didn't know what could they do then.
He is father to two children and says that his family and chopping wood are his two favorite hobbies. Vanhanen is known for personal abstinence from alcohol, saying that alcohol doesn't taste him.